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Feed Meditation rears its ugly head

January 5th, 2012

Meditation has been featured on Breakfast television on BBC over the last two weeks. Usual format, a reporter gives a stereotypical Western viewpoint of what Meditation is, speak to some scientists, joins a group that meditates and see if there is  any improvement in any of the participants; say: “mind over matter”, another time slot on the programme filled. Maybe I am been a bit cynical.

There does seem to have been a ground swell increase in interest about “meditation” lately. I can’t figure out whether it is a natural increase in people’s consciousness in their search for spirituality or whether there is some market led manipulative force at work here- i.e. very soon their will be “meditation lounges” in all Tesco stores and Gyms, and sheeple being sheeple will all flock to do meditation because if  Tesco and Gyms have it, it must be good!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am really looking at a gift horse in the mouth. I should be jumping on the bandwagon, getting in  touch with local papers, local radio, saying “look at us, we do meditation at Shining Tree”. But we have never been very good at marketing ourselves - ranting and raving yes.The outcome of the BBC feature was positive. Basically it concluded that meditation brings about a change in your brain activity and relief of pain http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16406814  It also featured a lady with Lupus ( an auto immune disease characterised with imflammation and pain) who said that meditation helped her. Basically, it finished off with saying its “mind over matter” if it works use it.

My concern with the feature is that Meditation in the Western mind is still perceived as something that is done by wise man and sages and that it is just about sitting quietly. It is of course not- http://www.shiningtree.co.uk/_wp/2011/02/stir-fry-and-meditation-its-a-matter-of-technique/  the article on this link will show you that Meditation is a state of mind, it is mind, body and spirit. The lady with Lupus looked quite unwell to me, and I wonder wonder whether she has a full life style plan such as good nutrition and a comprehensive body awareness programme which covers Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong…………and yes, meditation.

Meditation is not something that you “do” to  suppress symptoms. Meditation is a way of life, it’s an attitude, it’s a synthesis of mind, body and spirit.It is not “mind over matter”, it is “mind and matter”. Whenever I watch programmes which show a very shallow understanding of a subject matter, it reminds me of a young child playing with the box rather than the present. We need to grow up.


Feed Ticking the boxes for Universal Spirituality

December 29th, 2011

“…..the power of a universal spirituality and its eight practical elements:

1. Solidarity for all life

2. Moral capacity

3. Non-violence

4. Self-knowledge

5. Selfless service

6. Simplicity of lifestyle

7. Daily practice

8. Serving as a prophetic witness in the causes of justice, peace, and protecting creation”                                                                                                                        The Mystic heart  by Wayne Teasdall


Now you know!

Feed Dharma Quote of the Week

November 17th, 2011

In general, most non-Buddhist religions meditate on the deity as being outside the physical body. In these cases the deity takes the form of a refuge, or of a protector or messenger. Thus do they meditate, and of course this is fine. In the Buddhist tradition, however, the deity is not meditated on as being outside the physical body. One meditates on the deity as being one’s own essence expressing itself through oneself arising as the deity. One therefore thinks, “I am the deity,” and with this conviction one meditates.
Why is it justifiable to meditate in this manner? As previously seen, the five afflictions are actually self-expressions of the five kinds of primordial awareness; thus our own mind is in essence exactly the same as the mind of a Buddha. In the philosophical treatises this is sometimes referred to as ‘sugatagarbha’ or ‘buddha-nature’.
Because all beings possess this innately pure buddha-nature, they are pure by nature and not at all impure. Being pure by nature it is perfectly justified to meditate that you are the deity, because this is exactly how it is!(p.95)
–from Everyday Consciousness and Primordial Awareness, by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, translated and edited by Susanne Schefczyk, published by Snow Lion Publications

Feed The emperor’s new clothes syndrome

November 16th, 2011

Saw an advert on the TV last night. One was for a new movie system from XBox which was voice activated. While on one level, it seems very positive and a sign of progress in technology; on another level, it’s another opportunity for us to sit on our bum and do even less.

Technology should make our life easier so that we can have more time exploring and making relationships with our physical, emotional and spiritual self. Rather, it has become the golden cow that all everyone wants to worship. Materialism has become the new god to all. Brainwashing and indoctrination is so clever and subtle, you have to admire them…just see the adverts. Buddha said that life is an illusion or a dream. The story of the Emperor’s new clothes demonstrate this……. if ever body around you believe something to be true, it must be true. So how much of what we believe in is our own actual perception and how much of it is manipulation ?

So who do we blame? The bankers? The marketing gurus ( I really believe that if they wanted to, they can persuade you to eat your own baby)? Tesco?

The above is merely a reflection of a part of our own nature. So if we hate them, we are merely hating an aspect of ourselves. If we don’t want to be led and controlled then we must stop acting like sheep, we must all become shepherds- our own shepherd. When the negative aspects of ourselves are balanced by our positives aspect, then  the bankers, PR gurus. Tesco and other tyrants and manipulators will disappear like the illusions that they are.

How do we get that balance………….. you got it-meditate.

Feed When your horse dies………..you walk.

November 9th, 2011

I saw a patient today, someone that  I haven’t seen for a while. When Anne ( not her real name )first came to see me, what came across was a lovely vibrant , focused and capable  business woman who was also vivacious and fun. She was totally exhausted, burning the candle at both ends……..usual story . Through treatments,followed by two retreats at Shining Tree, she appeared to have got the message, and hopefully her life would be more balanced with the right support systems and not just work, work work.

Through a mutual friend, I was made aware of her progress, and it wasn’t good. The project that she was so passionate about crashed and burned, taking with it  all her savings. The free lance work that she did successfully also seemed to have dried up, probably not helped by her dis-illusionment   about life in general. Like most dramas in life , this was compounded by two failed relationships .

My friend rang me this morning, and said that Anne had stayed overnight at his and had a severe backache and could I see her for a treatment in his place. Interesting to think that he rang up for her and will pay for her treatment, because he is a generous, lovely man. Why didn’t Anne suggest the treatment herself? Was she really that hard up that she couldn’t afford to book a treatment for herself? Was she embarrassed to see me?

It was lovely to see Anne again. She did look tired, almost a shell of the person that I first met. Typical exhaustion symptoms- aches and pain, tiredness and lethargy. Those  who knows me,knows that I do  a lot of nagging as part of my treatment, I justify this by telling patients that if I didn’t care,about them, I wouldn’t bother to nag;  just save my breath and take the money. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus…..so it is said. Well, a lot of the time my advice is generally Martian in nature, sometimes people need to be told where to get off; I don’t mind someone letting off steam now and again, but if the person goes on and on repeatedly about the same issue, then martian know-how is definitely required.

Anne told me that she was ready now to start again and she was even going to cut her hair short as a symbol of a new beginning. She wanted to get her health back and become a therapist to help others and was considering doing an NLP course to get the ball rolling. I commended her for wanting to get well and to share her knowledge with others, after all that is what my own journey is all about. However, I reminded her that she already had all the knowledge she needed from all the treatments, and retreats she had experienced at Shining Tree. She has in-depth understanding of theory and practice of nutrition, Yoga, Qigong and meditation. That is the same knowledge base from which I try to live my life and share with my patients and students.Why do you want to learn anything else? I asked her. It seems that a lot of us has this tendency to be like butterflies, flying around from one thing to another, never achieving anything, only to find out later that we had it all along.

I said to Anne that even if she was given a lot of material wealth tomorrow, or maybe . the project that failed so miserably for her had succeeded, she still would not be happy. Our happiness come from our inner wealth. When we have that, then our external environment will reflect this, be it relationhips,work or material wealth. As long as we have enough external and material wealth to live on, why do we need more? If there is uncertainty in our lives, what do we do? We meditate and look inwards for the answers. Wouldn’t it be boring if we cruised through life without making any mistakes? We’d never learn anything!

Anne seemed to take on board what I shared with her. ” I just need to get back on the horse” she said to me with her normal verve and enthusiasm. No, I replied. There is a Chinese proverb which goes: when your horse dies…..you walk, I told Anne. “Don’t get back on the horse, in fact, don’t rely on any horse.Walk on your own two feet. Rely on yourself, meditate , find that inner wisdom”.

Feed Good wishes

November 4th, 2011

Practice for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama The Practice:

1. Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each day remembering we all want the same things (to be happy and be loved) and we are all connected to one another.

2. Spend 5 minutes breathing in, cherishing yourself; and, breathing out cherishing others. If you think about people you have difficulty cherishing, extend your cherishing to them anyway.

3. During the day extend that attitude to everyone you meet.  Practice cherishing the “simplest” person (clerks, attendants, etc) or people you dislike.

4. Continue this practice no matter what happens or what anyone does to you.

These thoughts are very simple, inspiring and helpful.

The practice of cherishing can be taken very deeply if done wordlessly, allowing yourself to feel the love and appreciation that already exists in your heart.

Feed Samatha Meditation at Shining Tree

April 11th, 2011
Samatha means calm. Samatha meditation is an effective but gentle way of training the mind to develop inner strength and freedom from turmoil, leading on to clarity and understanding. This path from calm to insight was followed by the Buddha himself, and is a central tradition of Buddhist meditation. There are many kinds of Samatha meditation techniques: this one is based on attention to the breath, a subject which is said to be suitable for all types of people.
By regular daily practice the chattering, unruly mind gradually becomes calmer and develops clarity. The way our mind works becomes less confusing to us and we begin to understand the habits of mind that hold us back from happiness and freedom. We become kinder to ourselves and those around us. Meditation is a practical matter: increased awareness brings an ability to make the most of ourselves in our daily lives.
The Samatha Centre
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